Julian returned from his early morning walk and we headed towards the harbour front stopping at one of the delightful Asian bakeries where he had discovered cheese boats. A hollow, thin flakey pastery with a solid block of cheddar cheese down the middle, topped with grated cheese and a sprinkling of sugar. Not allowing myself such sinful treats I opted for a mango yogurt bubble tea and some eggs, beans and tofu on rice. I had a taste of the cheese boat and decided it was definitely worth the calories and immediately regretted my decision.
Having taken the LRT to Harbour Front station we exited the underground rail system onto a pavement lined with labourers taking refuge from the hot sun during a break. Approaching the harbour front the heat was more than I could bare. I was blinded by the early afternoon sun as it reflected off the calm waters and before me and the glass fronted skyscrapers of the city's financial district to our left.
Despite the Singapore harbour being the busiest port in the world, there was only 3 water taxis present in this horseshoe shaped bay which forms the base upon which the city was built around; all sea traffic these days kept well out of sight. With squinting eyes I stopped for a moment to take a closer look at the buildings surrounding me. As my pupils dilated to accept the intense light I realized that I was standing among some of the most unique modern structures which more closely resembled works of art rather than a city centre. A white stone statue of the Merlion, half lion and half fish; Singapores national symbol, stood about 300m distance directly opposite our entry point, spurting a stream of water from its mouth into the harbour. It was the imposing building to the right which is the main focal point. Built since Julians last visit in 2000, towering 57 stories above the harbour; 3 individual buildings gleamed in the sunlight. Along the top, a boat like platform connected all three creating one structure. The impressive feat of architecture only grew more stunning as we spent the day exploring it.
We walked its entire length passing exclusive restaurants, luxury clothing boutiques, high end jewellery stores with price tags far exceeding our meagre allowance. We walked along the shores of the pool that follows the length of the mall, with men in black little hats providing traghetti boat rides between an escalator connecting this mall to the main floor of the hotel complex and the Marina Bay LRT station.
Upon setting foot on the hotel grounds, staff were available to open every door. The main floor of the hotel was enthusiastically furnished with multiple restaurants, bakeries, sweet shops, hair salons and jewellery shops. Julian pointed out an exterior wall he had encountered during his morning foray, which seemed to be breathing and rippling with life. Convinced of the impossibility of a living wall I followed him outside to closer inspect the situation. Pieces of aluminium 6" by 4" were individually pivoted at their top edges and from top to bottom along the full width of the wall, allowing the breeze to dictate the movement of the wall as it pulsed and flowed with the air currents before me. We took a moment to appreciate the design as we sat down to have a snack - Julian having his cheese boat while I choose the far healthier option of a rye bun with cheese. In that moment the sun shone directly on this living wall and the breeze stilled, turning the whole thing into a mirror reflecting an absurd amount of light and heat upon us.
A young child greeted us; a local boy no older than 12 years old engaged in a conversation which lasted about half an hour. Within that half an hour I was convinced he was the most intelligent 12 year old I have ever met. He knew everything about Julians camera, geography and foreign currency. We offered him a 50 pence piece and in return he offered a trade. Out of his wallet his produced a crisp Chinese 1 Yuan note with Chairman Mao pictured on the front. He then continued to mingle with the other tourists playing a guessing game of where each person hailed from.
Following the terrance around to the back of the building I finally laid my eyes upon the busiest harbour on the planet. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of boats were either coming, going or resting in the salt waters beyond. I have never seen so many boats in one spot.
I was glad to be staying in Little India and personally feel travelling on a shoestring to much more fulfilling than the way I saw people living today.